Women’s Empowerment: Reading Sanctum Potpourri #11

Reading Sanctum: Potpourri is one of our continuing features of quick cut book reviews to help you find some otherwise innocuous books that might have escaped your attention. As a huge library/book reader geek, I love sharing stories about the books I am reading. So, if you love books like I love books, then you just might love this feature, too.

Since March is generally a celebration of Women’s Empowerment, I have included books that I feel celebrate the strengths, wisdoms, values, and complexities of womanhood. This month in particular we have written about strong women in movies, TV, books, and comics. 

What follows are some of the books I have read from disparate genres that I have recently either enjoyed or panned on Goodreads, where I curate every book review that I have written for the past four years and counting.

Closet Full of Bones by A. J. Aalto was published on May 24th, 2017, by Pixiegrind Ink Ltd. It is the story of two sisters with very distinct personalities. Gillian Hearth is the older protective sister while Frankie is the younger more trusting sister. Frankie usually gets embroiled, and it is Gillian that resolves.

When Frankie’s ex-boyfriend comes calling to exhume buried secrets from the past, a former unstable friend stops by their new home seeking solace, and a cop with a nose for cold cases all converge on the sisters to threaten exposure of their prior acts, Gillian must act once again to protect what they have built.

First off, it’s a great title for a book that immediately conveys that this novel is going to be about secrets and skeletons that are hidden, hopefully never to see the light of day. The cover is even more impressive. When I first downloaded to my Kindle, I expected a slow-paced, Agatha Christie type slow-burn mystery, which is what I got, sort of.

I love the relationship between the sisters who are the main characters, Gillian and Frankie Hearth. The first line of the book draws you in immediately. It shows that Aalto has some writing chops. The plot weaves a complex plot that you wonder how it will unravel, but then somewhere along this sophisticated course, something happens where it becomes less cohesive and logical.

It could very well be my fault that the climax fails to reach the emotional beats I projected Aalto to hit, and I was left wanting. For me, I guess the story turns on the ability to communicate the situation to someone who can help ameliorate the nuances. Still, intriguing story and characters. I’m staying down the middle of the road with this one.

Surface Tension by Christine Kling was published April 2012 by Tell Tale Press (first published in 2002). I read the 2012 version on Kindle. Surface Tension is about a Florida tug and salvage captain Seychelle Sullivan who gets a Mayday call one morning to assist in the rescue of a luxurious yacht (is there any other kind of yacht?)

When Captain Sullivan arrives, she realizes that the yacht is named the Top Ten who is captained by a former boyfriend. He is no-where to be found, but what she does find is a lovely young lady that has been stabbed to death and a very bloody crime scene. With that we are propelled through a very compelling mystery by a first-time writer.

I’ve never read this author before and agreed to read the novel in return for an honest review. I found the author knowledgeable of the Florida setting and the boating lifestyle. For a debut novel, pretty good and smart to incorporate the things she knows.

The characters popped with believability. The story swept me up in the narrative and while I read it, I kept getting a Peter Benchley mixed with Sue Grafton vibe. The protagonist is Seychelle Sullivan, the captain of her own salvage tugboat. From there she gets embroiled in a murder investigation where she is the prime suspect. I liked it a great deal and would read this author again.

Forgive me for choosing Rose Madder by Stephen King published by Signet June 1st, 1996, as one of my picks for Reading Sanctum Potpourri, when it is a mass market top seller, but very few New York Times Bestseller books have been more strongly tied to Women’s Empowerment and earned more money than Rose Madder. In my estimation, it would be foolhardy to do so.

Rose Madder is about Rose Daniels an abused housewife married to a psychotic police officer. It begins with a drop of blood on a bed sheet, and the sudden realization that if Rose Daniels doesn’t leave her domineering and abusive husband, she may very soon wind-up dead, a victim of spousal abuse.

She also realizes that she can’t just pick up and flee to a new city. Her husband is a cop. He has resources. Cop resources at his disposal, that can assist him in his search for the wife that’s “betrayed” him. How dare she be unhappy about being a punching bag slave to a strong economic provider?

This novel is an intriguing feminist celebration rife with allegorical themes about the psychology of the abused and the abuser. Admittedly, it sometimes feels a little heavy-handed, but for the most part the characters resonate with believability.

Norman is nuts. No matter how over-the-top he may seem, I know men like this FOR REAL. Some men will stop at nothing (even murder) to regain control of the woman that did them wrong by running away.

Despite the supernatural aspects of this book (which are overt) this is a good story. At times, there are some elements – no spoilers – the painting – that stretch the parameters of truth, yet overall, there is much to feel optimistic about. Not all of King’s work is as filled with hope.

Well that about does it for me you lovable Geeks. I hope you have enjoyed Women’s Empowerment Month here at the Mustache and the Beard. We might do something completely different for next March, but that entirely depends on you. Please don’t forget to hit the like button, subscribe, and comment. As always, thank you for reading my post. Stay safe, because I love you. See you later! Take it easy! Peace!

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